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Back to School: Time to Get Back to Dental Routine

(GREENVILLE, N.C.) – School buses are rolling and parents are busily buying new outfits and school supplies. “It’s also time to  add a toothbrush and a dental checkup to the list of pencils and notebooks,” says Dr. Lee Lewis a Greenville, N.C., dentist.
“Kids and parents tend to get away from a good oral hygiene routine during the summer, so this is a good time to get back on track,” he adds. “It’s good to begin with a dental checkup and cleaning. School-age children should see a dentist twice a year, because this is a time of great change in the mouth as many kids transition from baby teeth to permanent ones.”
Untreated tooth decay, an infectious disease, can impair a child’s ability to eat, speak, sleep and learn. And, unchecked, it can lead to more serious health problems.
“Yet, 60% of children fail to visit a dentist once a year,” says Dr. Lewis. “Tooth decay is second only to the common cold in prevalence among school-age children. The good news is, it’s easily prevented.”
Children should brush and floss twice a day and, if possible, brush after every meal. “There are lots of child-friendly products out thereincluding themed toothbrushes that make it more fun to brush.” Parents can even pack a travel toothbrush and toothpaste in their child’s lunchbox to take to school. “Be sure the toothpaste contains fluoride and the toothbrush is soft-bristled,” he adds.
National studies show that only one-in-five school-age children eats the five recommended servings of fruits and vegetables daily. And, a like number don’t meet the minimum standards for daily calcium consumption. “That greatly increases the risk of cavities, so parents need to take charge of their child’s lunch. That means packing a healthy lunch and making the right meal choices in the school cafeteria.”
 Dr. Lewis recommends choosing white milk over chocolate, strawberry and other flavored products that contain more sugar. “Children should also drink plenty of water during the school day.”
“Also, watch after-school snacks. Since so many kids go straight to sports practices after school, many turn to sugary foods and drinks from a vending machine for a snack when there’s no other choice available.  Instead, send them to practice with fruits, nuts, bite-sized carrots and bottled water that will deliver the energy kids need without the downsides.”
And speaking of sports, Dr. Lewis advises parents to fit their sports-minded children with mouth guards that protect their teeth and jaw. “These devices can be fitted by a dentist or there are the boil-and-bite versions available almost anywhere.”The N.C. Dental Society represents 3,600 dentists throughout North Carolina. The NCDS encourages improvement of the oral health of the public, promotes the art and science of dentistry, sustains high standards of professional competence and practice, and represents the interests of the members of the dental profession and the public which it serves.